By Deputy Chief of Staff, G-4 (Logistics Initiatives Group)June 9, 2017
WASHINGTON -- Former Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Colin Powell said he was "Very proud to call myself a Vietnam Veteran" in remarks delivered at the Pentagon Auditorium on Thursday.
Speaking to the packed auditorium as part of an event to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Vietnam, he said, "One thing the American people can always be assured of is that when the call comes, America will respond. We will always be there."
The audience included more than 30 Vietnam Veterans who work at the Pentagon; several current and former Generals; and many current Soldiers and civilians.
The heads of the government-wide effort to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War were also in attendance, including Michael Rhodes and retired Maj. Gen. James Jackson. The effort has more than 10,000 partners across the country, who are holding events like this to connect with the 7 million living Vietnam War-era Veterans.
Gen. Powell served two tours in Vietnam: the first as an Army Captain, when he was an advisor with the 1st and 2nd Infantry Divisions from 1962-63; and the second as an Army Major, when he was Executive Officer and Deputy G-3 with the Americal Division from 1968-1969.
He said that he has often visited the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, taking foreign dignitaries with him. He always points out the sculpture "Three Servicemen" near the wall and wonders: "Are they looking for a friend or themselves?"
He added that commemorations like this are important for "never forgetting the sacrifices of our young men and women, not only in Vietnam, but in every other place we assemble."
When asked what advice he would give to military leaders today, Gen. Powell said the priorities of each service should be taking care of the people fighting and their families, and making sure the weapons they need for today's modern warfare are there for them.
"Never short the accounts for Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines," he said.
He also praised today's Soldiers, saying, "I think of what you are asked to do, and the multiple tours you are doing and it is far more demanding than what I had to do in Vietnam or Soldiers had to do in World War II. Over, and over, and over, your assignments require you to go to Afghanistan, Iraq, and so many other places. I couldn't be more proud of you, every single one of you."
"General Powell has been a role model to all of us," remarked Lt. Gen. Aundre F. Piggee, Deputy Chief of Staff for Army Logistics, G-4, who serves as the Army's Executive Agent for the Vietnam 50th Commemoration. "And it all began with his bravery in the jungles of Vietnam."